[Brussels, 26 September 2012] The EWL is pleased to see the imprisoned members of Russian feminist punk rock band, Pussy Riot, shortlisted for this year’s Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament. The nomination for the human rights activist award was put forward by German green MEP Werner Schulz, and backed by 45 further members of the Parliament.
Praising the "creativity" and "courage" of the band, three of whom were recently sentenced to two years in a labour camp after protesting against Putin in a Moscow cathedral, Mr. Schulz said, "They have managed to do something which others have failed to do: attract international attention to a state which is moving further and further away from western values."
He said, "In the west, a punk band would not have to protest in a church. But this is typical of what people have to do in a totalitarian regime," added Schulz.
The "Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought" has been awarded annually by parliament since 1988 to individuals or organisations that have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy.
It is named in honour of the Russian physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov.
Last year it was awarded to the Arab Spring activists.
The conference of presidents of the European Parliament is due to choose the winner on 26 October.
Other nominees for the prize include a civil society activist from Belarus, the director of a centre offering legal assistance to victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, three Rwandan opposition representatives, and an Iranian lawyer and film director. For more information, see The Parliament Magazine article on this topic: